Adam Silver’s Trident of Punishment levied against Donald Sterling included a lifetime ban from the NBA, a $2.5 million fine (the maximum allowed by the league), and a forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he’s owned for more than thirty years. The first two are pretty cut-and-dried, and have been applauded by everyone around the league. But it’s the third one that will have everyone buzzing soon. Who is going to be the lucky(/insane) billionaire who lands the Los Angeles Clippers? Also, that billionaire may want to have some extra billions laying around, because the winning bid will most certainly price some folks out of the running (sorry, Diddy!).
Thus begs the question: how much skrilla will the Clippers fetch? Well, let’s start with their estimated value. Thanks to the Sacramento Kings’ sale price of $534 million one year ago, every other franchise’s value skyrocketed. The Kings had been valued at $300 million before Chris Hansen submitted a $525 million bid. He increased his bid to $625 million, before David Stern decided to take his latest dump on Seattle and settle for less. Even at the lower price, the Milwaukee Bucks’ franchise value bumped up to roughly $400 million — a 30% increase for the league’s lowest-valued team.
In case you missed it, the Bucks just sold for $550 million. Translation: Forbes can estimate franchise values all they want, but they can’t predict how much ultra-competitive billionaires are willing to pay to be a member of the World’s Most Exclusive Club. Thus, let’s find out how much the Clippers are “worth” on paper, then figure out how much they’re worth to a prospective owner.
According to Forbes, the Clippers are currently valued at $575 million. We’ll take the Bucks’ recent sale price — roughly 36% more than their estimated value — and apply it to the Clippers. That $575 turns into $782 million (although, some people have pegged it closer to $750 million). Regardless of which number you choose, it’s an astronomical amount, and that’s before the bidding war.
(Note: The Kings’ value was drastically inflated by Hansen’s first bid, but we only have that and the Bucks’ sale for comparison in this new era of NBA franchise values.)
For the sake of dealing with nice, round numbers, we’ll use the $750 million estimated value. Thus, based on history and simple math, we have an idea of how high the bidding can — and probably will — go. On the low end, a 36% increase pegs the franchise at just slightly more than $1 billion. If we go the Hansen/Ranadive route, a 78% increase puts the Clippers at $1.3 billion. Either way, you’re paying $1 billion for them.
Several groups with desire to purchase Clippers are already stepping forward, with a bidding war expected to exceed $1 billion for Clippers.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 29, 2014
Next, we have to factor in that these aren’t your Daddy’s Clippers, and they aren’t located in Sacramento or Milwaukee — two small markets. They’re in Los Angeles, and while they may not have been relevant for most of their existence, they sure as hell are now. They feature two of the league’s ten best players, a championship-winning coach, and have a shot at winning a title this year — and for years to come.
So, how much is all that worth? The sound you’re hearing is the line of Brinks trucks rolling up to the NBA league offices in Manhattan. Also, this is the part where you realize the guy who just received a lifetime ban from the NBA is going to make out like a bandit. The richest bandit in history.